finding perfect bubbly for the holidays – review and a bonus gift

I am so excited to bring you Sips in the City’s first custom cocktail!

And, since that is such a special occasion, we have crafted it out of a beautiful sparkling wine with a sommelier, no less.

And, and…. if you are the ‘try it before you buy it’ type, you’ll be excited to know that it’s available for purchase this holiday season at one of our local restaurants!

See? So excited! Let’s get to it.

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Haywire’s The Bub and Evolve’s Pink Effervesence

I really wanted to come up with a way that you can purchase sparkling wine for your holiday parties and celebrations and get the most out of your purchase. If you are like me, you want to use up the whole bottle and you want your guests to have a great time helping you drink it.

Sparkling wine is such a treat. I love toasting and marking special occasions.  I also love being creative and surprising people. So, we asked for a little help to come up with a way to get two drinks for the price of one when you buy your bubbles this year.

Meet Brain Henderson. He’s the bartender at Storms on the River in Kamloops. Hi, Brian!

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Brian is a member of Liquid Chef, the U.S. Sommelier Association and Confriere du Sabre d’Or. Yes, he’s holding a sword. More on that later. We asked Brian to help us taste two sparkling wines, at two different price points, this week and then help us come up with a cocktail that you can make with your remaining wine after you toast. Boy, did we pick the right guy for the job.

On to the bubbles!

The first wine we tried was from  Evolve Cellars. We sampled their lovely Pink Effervesence. This sparkler is made of predominantly Pinot Blanc with a splash of Merlot. This wine had nice body. It had great weight in your mouth and followed through with lots of fruity finish. It’s very peachy and isn’t too dry. It’s a gorgeous wine. Beautiful colour and flavour and very worth the price. This is the perfect sparkling wine for your Christmas party with friends. It would also be great at an office afternoon potluck on your last day before Christmas. Or, is your book club, school PAC or Mom’s group having a Christmas get-together to celebrate how awesome you are? This twinkly treat would be perfect for those occasions, too. And at under $20 a bottle, you can afford to amaze your friends with your good taste this season! Of the two we tried, this was my favourite and Brian’s too.

Note the bubbles in the next picture and you tell me if the glass you choose is important to your wine experience? You need to buy yourself some champagne flutes, buddy. Class it up.

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The next wine we tried was from Haywire Wines. Their 2014 The Bub is a step up, coming in at $29.90 a bottle. Now we are dealing with a champagne style wine, crafted in the traditional method. This type of wine goes through a second fermentation in the bottle which creates more pressure and tinier bubbles. The process is more intense and the price reflects the craftsmanship. This is a considerably different wine than the first.

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This is a wine-drinker’s champagne. It is drier, more complex and had beautiful balance. It was earthy and clean. It has a minerality that is very distinct and would pair wonderfully with the types of warm appetizers that you see commonly at holiday par-tays. Crafted from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes grown in the Okanagan, it’s a true reflection of the quality of clean, crisp, world-class wine that we can produce in BC. This was Kevin’s favourite of the two. He leans towards the drier, heavier wines normally so I am not surprised. This is the perfect Christmas Eve wine. It’s perfect for in front of the fire, with the Christmas tree twinkling beside you. Having your relatives over? Making a big announcement (boys, buy her a ring already)? Do you know you have a wine snob on your guest list? This is your wine.

Now, let’s have some fun! You can do a lot with a bottle of sparkling wine, my friends! In an hour, Brian came up with five, FIVE, amazing cocktails with these two wines. Here we go….

First, some wine porn…

We had a lot of fun! I asked Brian to meet a couple of requirements when I asked him to start thinking of what we could create;

  • The drink needed to be more martini and less sangria
  • It needed to stay true to the flavour and the feel of the wine. Don’t weigh down the bubbles!
  • It could not be too sweet
  • It should feel like holiday treat!

And with that info, we got to work! Brian had made a raspberry puree with a hint of simple syrup. He had some oranges and lemons on hand, and he had made some infused ice cubes as well. Plus, he had another little surprise cooked up.

Our first martini consisted of a small amount of sweetened raspberry puree with our pink bubbly. He then rimmed the glass with orange juice and garnished the drink with an orange thumbnail. The result? A light, only mildly sweet, sparkling drink that started off tart from the orange and finished with the beautiful wine flavour we were hoping for. Easy, classic and perfect!

Our second drink was a bit fancier. We pulled out the big guns… the whip cream dispenser!

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But, that’s no simple whip cream you are seeing. That is whipped egg whites infused with simple syrup and elder flower liqueur. Oh Em Gee. So we started with the same base and added this beautiful top. I would lightly rim the glass with orange sugar as well. Since it’s not sweet underneath, you won’t lose the flavours in the drink. It is a beautiful cocktail.

Number three was also made with our pink potion. This once was simple and classy but had some serious flare. Like, fire flare!

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This one was really just our pretty sparkling wine with an orange thumbnail added. But he lit the orange on fire first! The result was that our drink smelled like warm, cinnamon oranges but tasted like our peachy wine. This was a delight!

And the fourth was just as fun! Using a white bubbly this time, Brian added some infused ice cubes that he had prepared in advance. We tried a basil and lemon sparkling martini and a cucumber and pineapple one, too!

These are lovely Christmas day drinks. Light and crisp and perfect for sipping after your breakfast and before your big dinner. They would also be great for your holiday parties. You can make them with a sweeter wine as well for a different experience all together.

So, which one came out on top to become the Sips in the City Cocktail at Storms this holiday?

Number two! The Elder Flower Infusion!! You will be able to purchase this drink at the restaurant and try it out before making it on your own! And you really need to go chat with Brian. He knows so much!! And he has great ideas. He’s been a sommelier for over 25 years. You can’t go wrong if you tell him what you really want. Plus, he’s super nice.

If you are really sweet maybe he will use a sword to open your wine…. I wish I could get the video to upload on here… it was awesome!

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Popping corks and taking names

Our very own Harper’s Trail released three new wines this week!

Not one, but TWO, bubblies and a Pinot Noir!

The first bubbly, a sparkling chardonnay, is light and smooth.

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The second, their version of a sparkling rosé, is punchier off the hop and a little sweeter. And you need to see the colour of this wine. If you can describe it let me know. We sure couldn’t settle on a colour.

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As for the Pinot Noir, this is their 2015 release. It has some character and this is one of the few bottles of BC wine that I would buy and hold on to. I think it will really come into itself in a year or so.

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Michael Bartier is the wine maker for Harper’s Trail and it’s always so interesting to try wines from different wineries that have been created by the same person. It really speaks to the character of the environment. Harper’s Trail has always had clean, crisp wines and this year is no exception!

We took a boat load of notes and we’ll be watching these wines! You can pick them up lots of places in town! Cheers!

best dad’s day wines for 2016

So, you are thinking that maybe your dear old Dad would like some wine for Father’s Day? Well, it beats a fish tie every day of the week, so good for you!

Even if your Dad has a favorite wine it may be better to give him something a little extra special this year. Here are two wines I think are pretty cool and they are both from BC!

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This is a dessert wine from Lang Vineyards in Naramata. It is the bomb! They actually make a red and a white version. Why is it so special? IT’S A MAPLE WINE!! As in, it has Canadian maple syrup in it! And I think that is pretty neat.

On top of being neat, it tastes great and is a real treat. Dessert wine is also fantastic because a little goes a long way. This one os particularly awesome because it rings in around the $20 mark. Buy all your Dads a bottle. Buy it for your uncles and grandpas, too!

Next pick?

 

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Monte Creek makes a new boxed wine, Giddy Up! It’s great! I like it better than their Hands Up Red, actually. It’s a great dinner wine and the box rings in around $33. This is also a wine that would go a long way. And it’s new and it’s local and it’s not the kind of wine that’s going to put anyone off. It’s a nice middle of the pack wine with lots of punch and not so heavy that you need to pair it carefully.

Any Dad would probably like to get their own little Giddy Up for Father’s Day! Who doesn’t need some extra Giddy Up, right?

I hope your Dad has a terrific day this Sunday! And if you are a Dad, or you are my Dad, sit back and relax and enjoy a glass of wine on your special day! You are a special guy!

 

white whine

It’s been two years now.

Two years of slogging through bottle after bottle and winery after winery. I’ve attended three festivals, two wine tours (maybe three) and participated in a lot (like a LOT) of wine club nights.

And?

Still no go-to white wine for this girl.

What is it about white wine that makes it so hard for me to love? There are lots that I like. But they are always just a little too sweet, a little too perfumey, a little too light or a little too… little.

How do you get a bold, aggressive white without a bunch of oak or a bunch of sugar?

So, I have decided to expand my search. Because, I am too cheap. I’m willing to spend $18 on a bottle of red that I really like but for some reason, I have got it stuck in my craw that a bottle of white should always be cheaper. Clearly, I am wrong about that.

So, I am going to buy 3 $20 bottles in the next month and try those.

 

I’m looking for suggestions if you have any! I’ll report back here on my results. It’s tough work… keep me in your thoughts!

 

fort berens riesling – brightest and best

Fort Berens Estate Winery is situated in Lilloett, BC. Super nice people, great tasting room and really nice wine!!

Last night we cracked into the Riesling to have with our teriyaki chicken and sautéed veggies. It was the perfect match. Here is some food porn for you…

Teriyaki Chicken with veggies. To serve with our Riesling!

Teriyaki Chicken with veggies. To serve with our Riesling!

First of all, the wine wakes you up the second you breathe it in. I can’t remember the last time I experienced a wine so bright when you smelled it! It is awesome!

As for the taste of it… equally bright. Very citrusy with a nice body and light finish. Perfect for dinner. And if you just wanted a sipping wine, a cool drink in a restaurant with the ladies, this would be perfect for that, too!

All in all, this wine is a win! It’s a beautiful spot. You can find out more about visiting them at http://www.fortberens.ca. Enjoy!

the dry spell has ended

Finally – a wine that doesn’t make me depressed. Hallelujah!

 

Kevin snuck a bottle in to surprise me last week. He spent around $20 on this puppy and it was good… really good.

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What can I tell you about it.. not much. You see, French wines are labelled by region. Beaujolais wines are made from gamay grapes. Generally, I prefer gamay wines or wines in a gamay style. This bottle says Brouilly but gamay on the back.

All I know is that it was smooth, not sweet, medium bodied and worth buying again!! Hurah! Now, let’s hope this dry spell of crap wine is over!

You can buy this at the government liquor store, BTW!

Cheers!!

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